Stop This Legal Corruption, Now!

Kwame Gyasi

“I am inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really…. I hope that everyone is equal but people who have to deal with black employees find this not true…You should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. Prof James Dewey Watson

When one considers the level of deprivation, denial, poverty, social and economic injustice in the Ghanaian society, then it is not only immoral but also criminal for certain provisions of the 1992 Republican Constitution, the supreme law of the land, to allow legal corruption to thrive. It would appear that the Constitution was crafted to allow the elite in society who find themselves in positions of trust to perpetuate a perpetual master-servant relationship and thus worsening the gross injustice existing among the citizenry. There are many provisos in the Constitution which I could cite to prove my point of view. However, but for the purpose of this article, I will make reference to chapter 9: the Council of State, chapter 8: the Executive and chapter 10: the Legislature because the Constitution has created these three bodies which in combination create a colossal corruption coalition whereby legal corruption is perpetrated with impunity.

Article 91 of the Constitution which establishes the Council of State states as follows:

“(1) The Council of State shall consider and advise the President or any other authority in respect of any appointment which is required by this Constitution or any other law to be made in accordance with the advice of, or in consultation with the Council of State”.

“(2) The advice referred to in clause (1) of this article shall be given not later than thirty days after the receipt of the request from the president or other authority”.

“(3) The Council of State may, upon request or on its own initiative consider and make recommendations on any matter considered or dealt with by the President, a Minister of State, Parliament or other authority established by this Constitution except that the President, Minister of State, Parliament or other authority shall not be required to act in accordance with any recommendations made by the Council of State under this clause”.

“(4) The Council of State shall perform such other functions as may be assigned to it by this Constitution or any other law not inconsistent with this Constitution”

The Council of State consists of 25 members, eleven of whom are appointed by the President. The President therefore has the opportunity to appoint eleven sound, sane, wise, healthy looking professionals and academicians of the highest intellect and repute in various fields of human endavours to form part of the Council of State. However, what has been the reality on the ground is far less palatable. A critical examination of many of the nominees of past presidents depicts disused extra time politicians with no relevance to the constituencies where they come from. Looking at the backgrounds of many of them, there is no way they can offer any reliable, independent, objective advice to a president who already acts quite clearly in politically partisan and tribal manner with large dose of nepotism as we have witnessed in the immediate past, especially when it comes to making crucial appointments. The legal corruption surrounding the Council of State runs deep.

The President is not bound to act on the advice of the Council of State and this is ominous since all proceedings of the Council of State are considered secret. Thus, the public has no way of judging the competencies of the Council of State, the quality of advice it offers and the respect given to it by the President. Additionally, it is not only the advice of the Council of State which is shrouded in secrecy but also its budget. However, from the manner the educated elite in society always polish their shoes and lace their gloves to contest for the elected slots on the Council of State as it is already happening, there can be no denying that fact that a position on the Council of State brings both enormous social and economic benefits. Indeed evil tongues rumour that the entire budgetary allocation of the Council of State for a four year term should be enough to remove and rehabilitate all the deprived souls putting their lives in danger running after vehicles while selling wares on our streets.

The superfluous nature of the Council of State becomes obvious when it is linked to the constitutional provision on the prerogative of the President to make appointments onto many state bodies and in particular the powers of the President to appoint ministers. One important area where the privilege to make appointments has always been grossly abused is that of the appointments of ministers and deputy ministers. Article 76, clause 1 states:

“There shall be a Cabinet which shall consist of the President, the Vice President and not less than ten and not more than nineteen Ministers of State”. Article 78 expects that majority of the Ministers of State shall be appointed from among members of Parliament. Clause 2 of the article also states: The President shall appoint such number of Ministers of State as may be necessary for the efficient running of the State”.

In our current dispensation what it means is that the President with Parliament at his beckon has no limit as to the amount of Ministers of State he can appoint. This clearly breeds legal corruption. Additionally, if the Constitution allows the President to appoint 19 cabinet ministers, an unspecified number of non-cabinet ministers, regional ministers for each region plus undefined number of deputy ministers, numerous metropolitan and district chief executives, should the President be allowed to spend state money to appoint additional citizens to advise him on any other issue, such non-binding advice, when such advice on any issue could be sought from any quarters by the President, even ex-gratis? Clearly, the Council of State is one of the most wastepipe elitist institutions created by the Constitution and it must be abolished with immediate effect and its budgetary allocation channeled to more useful and productive endeavours.

The Constitution, unfortunately, has created a corrupted Presidency and Parliament which allows legal corruption to be perpetrated with impunity. Article 71 of the Constitution which deals with Determination of Certain Emoluments is perhaps the most contentious, the most immoral and the most criminal provision ever crafted in the supreme law of any country, while article 76 which forces the President to appoint majority of the Minsters of State from Parliament clearly cripples and destroys the powers of the Legislature to act as the watchdog of the Executive, all clear cases which allow legal corruption to be perpetrated with gross impunity.

Originally published at www.modernghana.com.